Saturday, January 29, 2011

Not sure where we are going or what we are doing...except it's home time

Sigh... as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Yes, it's the end of the tour.

Although as the flight leaves in the afternoon (no point staying a night to have to rush off in the morning... just as any good date should be).

So lets check out of our accommodation and head back to the Harbour as there is one last place to have a look see...the Australian Maritime Museum.

The Museum is oh so interesting.

Exhibitions on American-Australian relationships; the Royal Australian Navy; Wartime - interestingly I knew about Australian wartime brides, migrating to America after they met American service men, but not about the brave Japanese wartime brides who migrated to Australia after marrying their Australian service; a sad reminder of a time when we had the "white Australian policy" which was not that long ago; emigrations from around the world; our indigenous people; beach fashions (interesting how we have done the full circle - fully covered up at the beach, to skimpy bikinis to be being fully covered up again.

Today,let's check out some predator action:



Well I guess it's about time to catch a quick bite and a bit of a play in one of the water features before catching our plane home..... Maybe time to think of the next adventure!




Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 3 - Well not quite the not sure where we are going or what we are doing...

I have a little bit of a confession to make... today's adventure was planned, so it's not quite a let's see what happens day. However, I can promise, for a change, it is not going to be a hectic day, more of a sit back, relax and enjoy type day...

After booking flights on-line an option to book other activities was offered, so it was a good opportunity for us all to get out of the city and expand the horizons further ... guess what we are doing? Yep we are going to go off wine tasting in the Hunter Valley. Oh but I do have another surprise for you too, so stay with me!

The Hunter Valley is about two hours drive from the city along the Pacific Highway. It is Australia's first ever wine producing region. Having been picked up at 7.30am the tour bus heads off. The tour guide is informative and the group joining the tour fun and friendly.

What amazes me as we drive along is the greeness of Sydney and surrounding area, especially coming from a scorched, summer rain-deprived State. How the Hawesbury winds gracefully through national forest, how there are small communities on the river's edge that commute to Sydney via boat each day. Totally magic.

Visiting one boutique winery after another. Enjoying informative presentations and learning more about the techniques of wine making. Mmmmm.... did you know wooded wine, doesn't necessarily mean the wine has been maturing in oak barrels, however the technique of oak chips placed in mesh bags (as if a tea bag) dangling in a metal barrel is often used?



The day was fun and our guide fabulous. We had intended to be back at our accommodation by 6pm, but goodness it was such a fun day, the wineries enjoyed our visit, not rushing and taking the time for us, our tour guide was fabulous and didn't shepherd us like a border collie to the bus at any time, so we didn't get back until after 7pm. This still giving us plenty of time for us to freshen up before my special treat for you....

I'm sure you may be aware when Oprah was visiting, she had a special surprise waiting for her.... wooohoo fireworks... well guess what I have for you... oh yesseee fireworks, so sit back, relax and enjoy (oh and just because Australia Day falls on the same day, purely coincidence, these were organised specially for you!)



video

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 2 of the not sure where we are going or what we are doing...

Hope you are all refreshed from Day 1's adventure, because I think that we may have a slightly busy day ahead of us :).

So to get off on the right foot, a visit to the Chinese Friendship Garden is warranted. Located at the end of Darling Harbour, walking along a water featured concourse, through a palm grove, past the Moscow Circus, we arrive at our destination. The Chinese Friendship Garden was established by the Chinese community to celebrate our Bicentenary in 1988.
A small oasis in the middle of a bustling city. The perfectly sculptured trees, imitating nature, a rushing waterfall, Chinese temples, Buddha sculptures, friendly dragons and quiet lotus filled water ponds brimming with giant Koi, provides tranquility and welcome relief in the sultry heat.

Following our sojourn around the garden it is time to make way to King Wharf, where lunch has been arranged and what better place, or way to do it, than cruising the Harbours on the catamaran the Majestic.

After being shown to the reserved place, the crew busily filling the buffet, the Majestic reverses easily out of her dock as we make our way out of Darling Harbour and to Port Jackson Harbour (or as more commonly referred Sydney Harbour).


Once underway, we are invited to help ourselves to the luscious cold and warm food from the buffet. The prawns are sweet and juicy, the salads plentiful as are the different varieties of vegetables and spicy noodles. Fish marinated in coconut sauce is divine and for the carnivores, juicy chicken pieces. Followed by mini deserts, fresh fruit and cheeses.

Stopping at Circular Quay for more passengers the catamaran makes it way around the Opera House and the small islands doting the harbour. Commentary being provided pointing out various places of interest and an overview of the Harbour from its establishment, during the wartime era and to recent port developments that have changed the docks to trendy (expensive) apartments and offices.

As the evening plan is for a Ghost Tour, the easiest method of transport to get there is via the Catamaran when it docks again at Circular Quay.


Now remember I warned you I don't regimentally plan my holidays... well this is one such time :). Getting off at Circular Quay, with time to fill in, makes it is the perfect opportunity to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art. An interesting option, there were pieces I really enjoyed and pieces... well you know the saying Art is in the eye of the beholder... just give me some paint and materials and I will see what I can come up with! But really I guess that is the beauty of art, it holds something different for all of us.

However, what I hadn't planned on, was a special exhibition of Annie Leibovitz works, "A photographers life, 1990-2005". It was fabulous, I have never been so awestruck. But it wasn't just her work of the rich and famous, or the power of politicians, but the essence she captures in photographs of her family and loved ones, from birth to death. (I think I'm babbling!)

Having a bit more spare time, I find the Argyle, it was suggested by a cousin as on the must do list. A hip-happening bar, just perfect for sitting in sunshine in the cobbled courtyard under the shade of a umbrella while drinking a refreshing lemonade (yes bubbles, but just of a different kind this time :)). But really as a shake was calling from down the road, it was time to get another quick bite to eat and another praline shake (just couldn't help myself).


Before long it is time to meet up at Cadman Cottage for the Ghost tour. As evening draws in, our black-caped, lantern holding tour guide meets us and provides each of us with some props for the tour, that we are to hang around our necks. Well at least with mine I get to hold a hand if I get too scared! And off we go, with two words, "follow me".

The evening is fun, exploring lane ways, through locked gates with tales of murder and self mutilations at the site where they occurred, with us having to part take in the tales as to what prop we had been given.

Ok, I will admit only now, I did have tingles up my arm and around my back (this was before we were told that tingles in females occurred in this particular place and one young girl in the tour had to leave the lane with her mother, visibly upset). This was in a certain lane, a hospital lane, where patients were kept in the laneway in the overcrowded conditions and the only anaesthetic to amputations was rum and yes there were plenty of deaths.

In the ruins of a cottage, that were discovered whilst a car park was being built under a building, after we descended into the warm, musty smelling, dark conditions, standing by the fireplace, I felt extremely uncomfortable (yes you guessed it, we were told people often felt uncomfortable in that spot) and what or who touched another one of the ladies on the back? Was it really a skull another one of the younger ladies saw while peering under the scaffolding stairs?

Whether it was overactive imaginations, from the atmosphere of the tour / or an actual presence or not the tour was super fun and interesting, going to places where I wouldn't have thought or found without a guide.

So that ending the day's adventure, I hope you manage to sleep well!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Not sure where we are going or what we are doing...

Well if Oprah can do it, there is nothing stopping me!

And you, dear friends, are one of my specially chosen audience members... a bit of hysteria about now please (oh and don't expect pink diamonds and pearls, vegemite not a problem).

Sydney - not sure where we are going or what we are doing but come along for the ride: Day 1.

On a side note, be prepared I don't tend to plan in great detail, so each day is an adventure for me too, just the unknowing of what is to come!)

To make the most of the day when we reach Sydney and due to a three hour time difference (yes each Australian State has a different time), we are flying the first available morning flight (no grumbling now, just because it means we have a 3am start, it is worth it, no point arriving when the day is almost done) on our chosen carrier, Qantas (if anyone out there is from Qantas, I am more than happy to do sponsored Adventures and blog favourably about my experience).





Unfortunately, Captain John Travolta had an urgent family commitment, so whilst he had every intention of being our own personalised Captain on this journey, family comes first. However, he did pre-record a personal welcome message, which was waiting for us once we embarked (and of course being a safety conscious airline, emphasised the importance of watching the safety demonstration).

Our chosen accommodation for the next few nights is a 1800's wool storage / warehouse building that has been converted into funky self-contained apartments, a stone's throw from Darling Harbour.

You did remember comfortable shoes, didn't you? As the only way to really explore a city is on foot!

Maps to my brain are, well to me, just a squiggle of lines and concentrating on lines, you may miss out on so much. So as long as I have a vague idea of where we should be heading, my best method of getting to a destination is to pick someone and follow them. Not only does this get us to where we are going, but provides an interesting journey into unknown side streets, with hidden staircases, the real vibe of a city.

Our destination, this afternoon, those famous landmarks that have become known as Australia: the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Having chosen my target, an American tourist who has just left her hotel (and looks like she knows where we are going), we head off. Our first stop is Pyrmont Bridge, the perfect place to over-look the hustle and bustle of Darling Harbour. Darling Harbour is a happening place. Full of waterside restaurants and bars, shopping, departure points for various harbour tours and home to the Australian Maritime Museum, Aquarium and Wildlife Centre.

Pyrmont Bridge connects the western suburbs to the city, and how cool is this, when a marine vessel needs to get to the end of the dock, the middle section of the bridge rotates to allow the vessel through.

Next target I choose are two young Italian guys. We head towards the City centre, following the signs to the Harbour Bridge, however at one stage my inbuilt beacon, determining we are going slightly off the beaten path, into Oxford Street, so glancing at Maps on my phone I detour back on track. Sydney is a combination of the old and the new. Limestone convict built buildings, converted into trendy businesses, terrace inner-city houses with the Cosmopolitan giants of the CBD providing a glass backdrop.


I arrive at The Rocks area (my favourite place....where the first colony was established, becoming home to sailors, whalers and traders) and head towards our destination point.

Ladies and gentlemen may I present the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, dah dah.


It's not all work on my tours, we do have time, for a refreshing break, time to sit and take the scene in, watching the ferries come and go through the harbour.

Mmmm, I'm thinking you are hungry by this stage as it is hitting evening, well I know just the place. Back into the Rocks, what better place than for a little bit of indulgence, than... the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe... chocolate heaven. I have to say I have never had a shake like a Guylian Praline Shake, smooth as velvet and full of calories, but hey we're on holiday and are allowed some self-indulgence, plus I did top it off with a healthy quiche and salad, even though the various chocolate desserts looked as if they were to die for (including chocolate brownies - lightly dusted with what looks like gold dust).


Time to head back, sauntering through the streets full of boutiques, shops, restaurants, bars and laned history. Until tomorrow.... lets hope we don't get to detoured on the way back!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Smoulder and burn

Woohooo.... chest, stomach hips.... wave upon body wave against the pole... change sides and repeat. Hip thrusts, now work it down. Butt circles...come on ladies really stick that butt out now ... Keep it low... now work it right back up. Figures of eight... move those hips... change sides...Move those hips deeper... Right arm high and salsa.... wooohooo get those hips moving.... move that left arm up and down your body seductively... remember the higher you keep it the higher the heart rate the harder you're working it...

So began the one hour, sexy, high cardio, low impact Smoulder and Burn class.

I had two hours to wait between work finishing and yoga class starting. If I headed home, I would have ended up on the sofa and wouldn't reappear out of the house until the next morning.

In a way this wasn't a bad option, as I had struggled to keep awake towards the end of the day, and I could just see that sofa beckoning...but then there was the other side of me, the one that argued and urged me to get out and get some long needed physical activity.

Impulsively, as my nature can be, I phoned the studio to see if there were any classes I could participate in... and just as I was justifying sofa time to myself ... I was enthusiastically told yes it wasn't too late to attend the S&B class.

A change of gear and off I headed.

Different routines: pole routines, chair routines, ab routines, hip and thigh routines to different, get-you-moving tracks. I smouldered and I burned for an hour, silently dreading the next morning, at the thought of every muscle still burning and smouldering.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Discoveries, disappointment and murder

As Dad (Chief aka Dad) has grounded me, because of The Weed's giveaway, I thought I would continue with the decorating this weekend as I'm not allowed to go out and enjoy myself.


I've discovered I am pretty good at this painting and decorating business. And ok, all the insinuations that "I get paint everywhere" and have never been taken up on the offer to help paint (yes I somehow managed to get covered in paint just doing the paint run to the shop and bringing it back for my sister) may have some truth to it... I'm sure my painting attire isn't too badly covered, well no worse than a professional painter's overalls (ok they paint all day every day, I paint when the mood takes).


I've discovered carrying a damp cloth while painting is a great way to clean up spills and no one will ever know how messy a painter I really am.

I've discovered paint effect paint is good fun and not that hard to apply.

I've also discovered that when fixing the cracks in the ceiling, where the plaster boards have moved, you need to use flexible filler, not the normal poly filler, as you get disappointed when the cracks reappear and the time and mess spent sanding back poly filler, to have to apply correct flexible filler can drive one mental.

I've discovered that when tidying up paint job and mopping slate floor, the slate looks really great when wet... which means yes I'm going to seal the floor.

So, it was while in the process of prepping slate floor, that the vacuum dislodges a plastic covered package from behind the fire. The package had been tucked away, deep at the back, where the metal was bent to form the stand. I have a gas fire, which looks like a slow combustion wood fire, with glass front, logs and coal.

I drag the package out with the vacuum. I've never really considered myself to be a drama queen (that is my mum's forte), or to have an over imaginative imagination, unless of course messing around with friends.

But here lay this package.



As I continue to vacuum I keep looking at. It keeps drawing my eye to it. Not sure really what is in the package. Not sure whether I really want to know what is in the package. But it keeps drawing my attention to it.

There is of course a reason for this hesitation to open the package and find out.

The previous tenant of my house is a friend. Now I know friend well enough to know he is not into drugs or trafficking, or the like, and there would be no reason for him to hide anything. However, prior to my friend getting married, he had a housemate.

His housemate was a quiet, introverted person. Not like the previous one that was accident prone and nearly managed to burn the house down. When my friend had people around for a bbq, although housemate was welcome to join us, he would often than not make himself scarce back into his bedroom or would go out.

It wasn't long after the housemate had broken up with his girlfriend that he began to act strange. One evening when my friend had a female friend over the housemate started to get quite abusive to the female friend. So my friend told him to pack his things and to leave, otherwise he would get the police involved. As a precaution my friend had the locks changed to deadlocks. Not only because of the violent tendency, it was discovered in the bedroom the housemate had used, was evidence of ritualistic type going-ons. A few weeks after this incident, the now ex-housemate murdered his ex-girlfriend. He is fortunately locked away.

So the reason for my hesitation at not opening the package straight away, and yes my mind was going a little wild as to what could be in the package, I will admit. Drugs? a knife? a left behind ritualistic type item? And what was I going to do when I found out?

Eventually, curiosity out won the initial hesitation. I slowly unwrapped the carefully wrapped item. I'm not sure whether immense relief or immense disappointment washed over me at that moment. In the package were spare pieces of fake coal for the fire place.... mmmm maybe my imagination is a bit wilder than I first thought.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday sweet friday

Ahhhh Friday... Today couldn't come soon enough. After the break and the short weeks, this week just seemed sooooo long. Not that it has been a bad week and I fortunately work with an awesome group of fun, unpolitically correct people, however Friday's arrival is always something to look forward to.

Today was a mixed bag of goodies. The morning consisted of volunteering to help copy information for some research work - mind destroyingly boring. Doing the final proof and edit to a publication, so much more interesting, especially choosing the pictures and the placement of them.

At lunch time I finally booked a flight to Sydney, yipeeee. I've had to put the trip off a couple of times for various reasons, so decided why not go over during the Australia Day celebrations. So in just over a week's time I'm off for a break ... ummm now just to let the boss know, hope he agrees, sure he will, won't he?

Then in between sorting out some policies for a Manual update I decided to quickly catch up on any blog updates. And it's celebration time!!!!

To celebrate reaching 100 followers, The Weed is having a GIVEAWAY.

Excitingly it's not just one prize but two.

He is prepared to part with his much beloved (unopened) Little Thumper and a gift card to the Cheesecake Factory. Unfortunately, as the Cheesecake Factory has still yet to make it to these shores, if I was fortunate to win I would have to decline the gift card, as I'm sure there wasn't mention of an air ticket to collect the prize (are you open to bribery Weed? If I win, the gift card is yours :)).

The motivation for winning the Little Thumper??? No, not quite the motivation that you are thinking! More my sense of humour at the thought of showing off Little Thumper, and telling the guys I work with the delightful story of how I was sent it by a man I hardly know, all the way from the US.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stop procrastinating! And get back to it

How lethargy slowly creeps in and procrastination wins every argument.

It's been about 3 (please tell me it's not 4!!!) weeks since I've exercised the body. Of course I blame Christmas and New Year time... too busy shopping, partying, celebrating Christmas and of course the bringing in of the new year.

Then of course the corporate side of our organisation closed for 10 days, so I didn't have my usual work exercise buddies to join after work for a few sessions.

The gym classes I enjoy were put on hold (ummm but I still could have gone to the gym and done my own thing, gosh why did I only think of that now?), pole dancing classes had finished for the year (still to resume next week), where I have moved to there really isn't any awe-inspiring-get-my-toosh-out-of-bed places to get up for a walk (wow what an excuse that is!). And then of course the determined, I AM DEFINITELY GOING TO START AGAIN NEXT WEEK, except next week arrives and .... yes you get my point.

Finally one of my friends and I got our poop together and did it. We decided enough was enough and no more excuses, so headed to one of the nearest park lands for a brisk walk around the 6km (3.7m) lake.

Yes, the sun was shining brightly and it was still hot at 5.30pm (by the time I got home at 7pm it was still 32C / 89.5F). I could feel the sweat form on my back, causing it to go itchy. The water fountain at the half way mark, while providing a much needed drink, provided only warm water.

I will admit the last 1km (.62m) the legs started to ache (to think we usually include jogging into this cycle but not tonight) and it felt like we would never reach the car park. Delusions started with visions and craving for take-away chicken and chips (I'm vegetarian... work that one out?) to ease the hunger (salad for lunch sometimes does not cut it).

At the last 500m mark we had reached the grassed picnic area and headed under the shade of trees. A lone man was on one bench overlooking the lake area (unfortunately with our lack of rain, the lake has started to dry out), playing a clarinet, picnicker's were unpacking baskets, drifts of cooked onion came from the bbq's.... and to think I could have missed being out on such a gorgeous evening, all because I procrastinated.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Life is good


Life is good, actually it is brilliant and is for living.

Wow, what a fantastic way to end the weekend and start the new week, by discovering you have been bestowed an Award! I would just like to say an extremely big thank you to the gorgeous Jumble Mash for even thinking of my blog, let alone giving me this Award.


Now there are some rules to this Award, which are:

1. First thank and link back to the person that gave the Award (done, and hopefully correctly).

2. Answer the 10 survey questions.

3. Pass the Award along to other bloggers whom you think are fantastic.

4. Contact the bloggers you have chosen to let them know about the Award.

Well, lets get started...

1. If you blog anonymously, are you happy dong this? If you aren't anonymous, do you wish you started out anonymously, so that you could be anonymous now?

I blog anonymously and prefer to blog this way. This is one of my other little worlds outside my real world and lets me express freely without any restraints, or possible restraints.

2. Describe an incident that shows your inner stubborn side.

I am a fairly laid back, easy going person. A stubborn side, who me??? Mmmm, well ok, maybe perhaps a little bit... I find sometimes when I'm told I can't or shouldn't do something, the little devil inside me appears and edges me on, that I go and do it anyway.

3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?

Do I need to wash my hair, straighten it or put it up today? No, seriously, I don't tend to self analyse. I am happy with who I am and think life should be for living and experiencing rather than wasting time staring at myself wondering about all the what if's.

4. What is your favourite summer cold drink?

At the moment, Brown Brothers' Moscato Rosa ... light, fun, sparkling and pink, served with strawberries, yummm, just perfect for summer days.

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?

I enjoy de-stressing with pilates, I enjoy the challenge of learning to pole dance or attempt a mad mountain bike ride. I totally love sourcing new recipes to try on unsuspecting friends and is there any way better to start Sunday morning off than by lazily with coffee and breakfast in bed?

6. Is there something that you still want to accomplish in your life?

There are way too many things I still want to accomplish (or at least try). Lets see, improve my photography skills, enjoy wine appreciation classes, learn to mix the perfect cocktail, hot air ballooning, become an accomplished writer (don't we all), learn more about web and graphic art design... and the list goes on.

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the shy person or always ditching?

I enjoyed school for the social aspect of being with friends. I loved learning too, so maybe at one point I may have overachieved and perhaps things were a bit too easy, but, put that together with a low boredom threshold and well... you get it.

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what would you see?

There are two very poignant moments in my life: my sister and me being with Dad when he passed away; and the other looking after my niece at the hospital while waiting for my sister to deliver youngest niece and taking eldest in to see her mum and baby sister for the very first time.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in you blog, or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people and events?

Do you really want to know that I eat porridge for breakfast? And as I have already shared my knickers with everyone in blogsphere... what else of the true self is there to know :).

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read a book or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?

Reading a book, in a bath full of bubbles, a glass of wine, candles, singing at the top of my voice to whatever is playing on my ipod... total, heavenly bliss.


Drum roll please, as I would like to pass on this Award to:

Mynx @ Dribble for being the impetus for my own blogging and getting me hooked.

Sandra @ Absolutely Narcissism I just love visiting her family.

While I pop off to let these people know about their Award, I thought I would just remind you who allowed me to pass it on :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

DJ

video


This is DJ.

I admit I have a soft spot for anything furry and cuddly, or as in this case, feathery.

DJ came into my life under two weeks ago, when neighbours asked if I would look after him while they headed down south for a break.

So...DJ's pad is set up at my place and the neighbours waved goodbye to.

DJ now becomes know as DJ. I think his real name is Dusty, but really, that just doesn't do it, so I've renamed him DJ Attitude ++.
DJ is a cool dude with attitude and spunk (no not that....this is Australian for showing courage/spirit, which counts, as he doesn't bat a feather when I decide the best way to clean up his feathers and discarded seed shells is by using the vacuum in his pad).

DJ has a constant habit of checking out his coolness in his mirror (um wait, that's three mirrors... what the??? I have one!) , blatantly. None of this quick sneak from the corner of his eye,while no-one is apparently looking, it is a full on gaze, head twirling, preening, followed by a wolf whistle when he finishes.

His cool dude moves are awesome enough that he should be appearing in Chris Brown's video Yeah 3x. I am attempting to teach him to say jump (rather than peek a boo, as this doesn't really cut it for such coolness). And the descending angel pole move ... well that puts me to shame.

As with any star, he has demands.

Demands to visit outside his pad, transported around in luxury.

Demands attention by calling out, what's happening? (he learns quickly).

Demands to be cajoled and stroked in the way that HE likes, with a nip and screech if it is not done correctly.

But hey who am I to argue with such demands as he gives me a wolf whistle as I head out the door to work.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Last day of freedom

As the last day of freedom from work closes in, what a better way to spend it then another day in paradise with friends at a beach cafe (sans spiders), enjoying local seafood (dukkah crusted barramundi) and white wine. Today has been humid so the breeze off the sea provided much welcome relief.

As a couple of my followers have ex-military backgrounds, I hope the following pics, may be of some interest (I acknowledge that it is not from the same Service they served in, but hey nothing wrong with a bit of inter-service rivalry :)).



The view from the table, not bad! The land mass in the background (trust me it is land in the way distance there) is Garden Island, connected to the mainland by a causeway. This is the Royal Australian Navy's main and largest fleet and submarine base, HMAS Stirling.



In an effort to walk off lunch is, a brief sojourn through the Naval Memorial Park. Aligning the walkway, plaques dedicated to the men and women who served on (now) decommissioned ships.






The submarine fin from HMAS Orion and the gun turret from HMAS Derwent.




And then a final look at the ocean before the afternoon ends, *sigh*.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Perfect start to 2011

A top of 32C (89.5F) forecast, a day off work, what better way to spend New Years Day than some time vegging on the beach?

Beach bag packed, the simpler the better: towel, cold icy water, dorky green hat (dorky but it coordinates with the green in my bathers), sunscreen, book - sweet ready to go.

Although it was only mid-morning families had already arrived, unpacking picnics, shade tents set up, games of cricket in progress, frisbees flying from one person to another.

I make my way down to the beach, spread my towel on the already hot sand, dispose of skirt and top, off with the glittery (still coordinating, yes I am sad like that) thongs (aka flip flops), smear sunscreen on one's pale body, hat plonked on head, lay back with book in hand. Ahh total bliss.

Total bliss about to be disturbed.

No sooner had I reached page two, than I felt a sensation on my bent leg. A crawling sensation. Book down, slowly raises top of body up onto elbow.... crap! A spider. Alright it might only have been maybe 3cm long in body length but it's still a darned spider.

Ok, I've grown up in Australia, I should be used to spiders. But HELL no, they still scare the crap out of me, and no amount of chasing me around the house with a huntsman (think of the movie Arachnophobia), in his hand, by my dad to try and de-sensitise me (that's my story I'm sticking to it, even though I am fully aware of the laughter that eminated from him while doing this as I screamed the house down) worked.

The panic is starting to rise, my mind is beginning to whirl, contrary to the calm coolness I am portraying to the outside world at this stage.

Spiders here don't live on the beach, they have no affinity with the surf, surf boards, buckets and spades. So where did this one appear? Maybe it jumped from one of the trees, in my bag, waiting for the perfect opportunity to pounce, while walking up from the bbq / picnic area and why on me (yes non-rationale thoughts).



Think, think, think.... no it's not working, just can't think, what if this spider is beginning to feel the panic building up in me and can sense it easing through my pores and out of it's own survival instinct it bites me? Up my thigh and over my knee it crawls.


I slowly raise my body further, without moving my leg, so I can keep an eye on it.

What if I reached for my thong and whacked it? Ok two problems: although they scare the life out of me, I don't like killing spiders, crazy I know, but it's bad luck for starters and they do serve a useful purpose (as long as they keep to their own territory and not raid mine), like getting rid of mosquitoes and flies; the second what if it survives the whack, or I miss and it bites me out of retaliation?

Likewise, if I try and just gently swish it off me with a thong, yeah right, like a spider is going to let me just swish it off, it will cling mercifully to my thong and then drop on my stomach on the return swing, I can just see it now, sinking its fangs into me.

Why did I have to pick a beach that was not notorious for life-threatening rips so did not have ab ripped, blond, speedo clad (ok speedo clad doesn't do it for me, but at this stage I need a hero, speedos or not) life savers nearby?

Then all of a sudden the spider jumps. Jumps right off, from my calf onto the sand underneath. The relief comes swelling in. My wit returns, before it has chance to head towards my other leg, or to my foot, survival tells me I need to move my legs out of this eight-legged creature's way.

Oh how dumb, um panic-stricken, am I? Spiders don't just jump, they abseil on a strand of web. How could I have forgotten that! To create a web, they release their gossamer-fine, invisible threads to the world, allowing the breeze / wind to carry it to the next closest object.

So as I bring my leg up to get it out of the spider's way, the spider rises in unison with it. Leg lowers, spider lowers, leg rises, spider rises.

Panic starts all over again.

This is not good, I'm not getting away from the spider. Then the spider starts to make its own way back up the web thread, towards my leg again. Leg lowers and rises quicker, in an attempt to shake spider off. No doesn't work. Book? Yes book, I can use book to try and dehook spider and leg. Leg lowers and rises, book sweeps back and forth underneath, between leg and spider... and no I don't really care at this stage what I am looking like to the rest of the beach, with my uncoordinated, aerobic moves. I am a survivor and I refuse to allow a spider to get the better of me (false bravado here).

Plan works, finally we are detached. My legs quickly tuck underneath me away from spider.

I watch for its next move (and direction of move). However, I think the heat from the sand takes it's toll on the spider and it crawls up into a ball and doesn't move again. Feeling slightly guilty (I really don't like killing spiders) but relieved, I lay back down again, continue reading my book and enjoy watching the sea.

Yes, no other perfect way than to start the new year off than vegging at the beach, ahhhhh.

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